Leadership Qualities the Most Successful Small Business Owners Share While every entrepreneur has a unique journey, there are certain qualities that the most successful small business owners have.

By Mark Kravietz

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Small business owners are the backbone of the global economy, driving innovation, creating jobs and contributing to the overall growth of communities. In fact, more than 90% of the business population in the United States represents small and medium-sized businesses.

While every entrepreneur has a unique journey, there are certain qualities that the most successful small business owners share. These qualities play a crucial role in their ability to overcome challenges, adapt to market changes and, ultimately, thrive in their ventures. Let's explore a few key qualities that differentiate the most successful small business owners from the rest.

Related: The 5 Qualities of Superior Entrepreneurs

1. Vision and strategic thinking

Successful small business owners possess a clear vision of what they want to achieve. They have a long-term perspective and can see beyond immediate challenges. They understand their industry, the market and their target customers, enabling them to make strategic decisions that align with their goals. These entrepreneurs are adept at identifying trends, recognizing opportunities and capitalizing on them. They have a keen sense of innovation and are not afraid to think outside the box. They constantly seek ways to differentiate themselves from competitors and create unique value propositions that resonate with their customers. Furthermore, successful small business owners understand the importance of setting achievable goals and creating a roadmap to reach them. They break down their vision into actionable steps, set milestones, and regularly evaluate their progress. This strategic thinking allows them to stay focused, make informed decisions and adapt their plans as needed.

When strategizing your long-term goals, bring in outside perspectives to inspire new ideas. Whether you have a board or other leaders in your network, informal brainstorming or quarterly meetings can ensure you're on the right track with your vision. Guidance from a business coach or mentor may also be helpful. The bottom line is to lay a clear foundation for your projected growth.

2. Resilience and perseverance

Resilience and perseverance are two fundamental qualities that are essential for small business owners to have in order to navigate the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. Building a business from scratch is rarely a smooth path. It involves overcoming numerous obstacles, setbacks and failures along the way. The most successful small business owners possess a relentless determination to persevere through these challenges. They understand that setbacks are learning opportunities, and failure is not the end, but a stepping stone to success. They embrace adversity, learn from it, and adjust their strategies accordingly. These entrepreneurs possess a strong belief in their vision and are willing to put in the hard work and dedication required to turn it into a reality. Their resilience allows them to bounce back from failures, adapt to changing circumstances, and ultimately thrive in the face of adversity.

A startling 50% of small businesses will fail in the first five years, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's smooth sailing after that. The pandemic shuttered more than 200,000 businesses permanently, so it's imperative that you're able to quickly pivot, regardless of what's thrown your way.

3. Strong leadership and communication

Effective leadership is a crucial quality for small business owners. They must inspire and motivate their teams to work towards a common goal. Successful small business owners lead by example, demonstrating integrity, dedication and a strong work ethic. These entrepreneurs understand the importance of effective communication. They are skilled at conveying their vision, values and expectations to their employees, customers and stakeholders. They foster a culture of open communication where ideas are encouraged, feedback is valued and collaboration is promoted. Furthermore, successful small business owners understand the significance of building and maintaining relationships. They know how to connect with customers, build trust and deliver exceptional customer service. They also recognize the value of networking and establishing partnerships with other businesses in their industry. Their ability to build strong relationships contributes to their overall success.

To continue to deepen your leadership skills, regularly educate yourself and seek outside leadership experts. Read books like Dare to Lead, listen to podcasts like Coaching For Leaders and sign up for development training and tool programs like T.H.R.I.V.E.

Related: 22 Successful Entrepreneurs Share What Inspires Them to Keep Going

4. Continuous learning and adaptability

The business landscape is constantly evolving, and successful small business owners recognize the need for continuous learning and adaptability. They stay informed about industry trends, emerging technologies and changes in consumer behavior. They invest in their own personal and professional development, seeking out knowledge and skills that will benefit their business. Moreover, these entrepreneurs are not afraid to adapt their strategies when necessary. They are open to change, embrace innovation and are quick to recognize when something is not working. They are constantly looking for ways to improve their products, services and operations to stay competitive in the market.

The National Federation of Independent Business Research shared a study that shows small business owners' biggest issues of 2023 to be inflation, supply chain issues and difficulty filling jobs. The challenges small business owners face are multifaced and dynamic; successful leaders must be ready to tackle these challenges head-on. Regardless of what the year is, the journey of a small business owner is filled with challenges, but the most successful owners possess certain qualities that set them apart — and the ones I outlined here are the foundation upon which successful businesses are built. By embodying these qualities, aspiring small business owners can increase their chances of success and navigate any challenge that comes their way.

Mark Kravietz

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor


As the managing partner and founder of ALINE Wealth, Mark Kravietz, CEPA®, CFP® and CIMA®, specializes in exit planning. He was named to Forbes’ 2019-2023 Best-In-State wealth advisors. Mark hosts a podcast discussing how to successfully exit your business called “Find Your Exit."

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